What is a Terminal Emulator?

A terminal emulator enables a computer to access another computer by use of a command line interface like CMD on windows or a graphical interface. You can even access remote computers software by use of a terminal emulator.

You may have heard or come across PUTTY which is the most common terminal emulator that enables you to access a remote computer via a network protocol like SSH.

But here we are going to deal with Alacritty, The fastest terminal emulator with unique features that do not are not ‘overflowing’. I would generally be meaning that Alacritty has the best features and also it does not have unnecessary features that you find you would not use at all. An example of emoji-like features and tab features found in KITTY which most of the time you would not use.

With Alacritty you can configure things like:

  • History, that is the recent number of lines you can go through in one session
  • Multiplier, where you can put the number of lines to scroll at the same time while scrolling using a mouse. Yes, It has a mouse functionality like most terminal emulators

Another good thing about Alacritty most setting are updated instantly, You do not need to restart your terminal every now and then to see the changes appear. It reloads immediately after a change.

In this guide I will show you how to;

  • Install Alacritty
  • Install Vim (Optional if you already have it)
  • Configure the alacritty.yml file to customize the Windows Settings

Installing Alacritty Terminal on Windows 11 / Windows 10

To install Alacritty on Windows you will need to visit the official GitHub site for Alacritty. Then head over to the right side of the site to see the latest releases of Alacritty then click on it.

It opens on a new page with the installer file for windows. Click on the msi installer file name.

The download starts immediately.

Once its over, locate the setup from your download folder and click on it to install. The Installation Wizard opens as follows
Mark the checkbox to accept the terms for license agreement then click install.

The installation finishes quickly.

Then you will find the newly installed terminal at the start menu as follows.

The terminal opens as follows.

You can try typing in some system codes to see how fast it is. A good example would be to run tree \ which gives you the number of directories and files in your system.

Another thing cool is that you can scroll back with the mouse and depending on the config file customization, You can scroll back up to 10,000 history entries and also choose at what rate rate you can scroll like 10 lines per scroll.

Some of the features that are cool with Alacritty and you can try are:

  • Increase font size with Ctrl with +
  • Decrease font size with Ctrl with -
  • Clear the terminal with Ctrl + l and also just type clear

Lets try opening a link from alacritty. I copied the GitHub link and used the code echo [link]. It shows the link and makes it clickable as seen with the underline. Once you click on it, It opens with your default browser.

Installing Vim editor

If you already have Vim installed in your system, Skip to the Next Step.

To install Vim, You can download it from the GitHub site or from vim.org. I chose to use the GitHub site

Once the download is over. Locate the installer file and click on it to install. It first opens a language dialog box to choose the language to install it in, then followed by the installation wizard itself.

The next thing would be to choose the components to be installed. I recommend to choose the Full type of install that installs all components incorporated in Vim.

Then choose the settings, I went with the default settings.

The next part would be to install and the installation finishes successfully.

Configuring Alacritty terminal using alacritty.yml on Windows

The next step will be to configure Alacritty.yml file. This file is used to customize the terminal to fit how you want it to be on your system.

Go to the GitHub site, find the alacritty.yml file and click on it.

The file opens in a new webpage and you would like to select the Raw version to get a clean copy of it without any edits.

It opens n a new tab as follows. You will select all the data and copy it.

Go back to your Windows File Explorer and locate the path to paste the file. On Windows it is %APPDATA%\alacritty\alacritty.yml.

To get app data folder go to the C:\Users\Default folder, then click on the view tab, mark the checkbox for Hidden items to show them. The AppData folder appears. Click on it to select it then click on the next folder Roaming. Here you will create a new folder and name it alacritty. Remember to do all this as the administrator.

The next step would be to open the Notepad and paste the content you copied previously from the alacritty.yml file on GitHub

The next option would be to save the file as alacritty.yml on the alacritty folder that you created.

The next step would be to open the file, The shorter way to do this is., while still on the alacritty folder, Right-click on it to select the option to open alacritty from that directory.

Alacritty open from the said path as shown.

To now edit the config file, type in vim alacritty.yml to open the vim editor to customize settings for windows

Editing the config file is just as simple as commenting out the styles so that they can now function. An example I did on commenting out the padding and removing the unnecessary comments in between the styles to make come out as follows.

Another example I did was on the color schemes section. You can change the color schemes to any color supported.

Another thing I did was to remove window decorations. From the config file I commented out Decorations and changed from full to none as shown below

And when you save and head back to the terminal you get the results as shown.

Before, the vim text was yellow and now it is plain white as other typed text. That shows how fast it is in saving the work and you do not need to restart the terminal.

With that in mind, you can go ahead and do some other changes in the config file.

Wrapping up

Something to note is that the alacritty.yml file is written in YAML language which might be tricky for a new person, The most important thing to note is that make sure everything is properly indented (Normal indent is 2 spaces)

There are a lot of simple, already edited alacritty.yml file on the internet that you can use without necessarily having to do the work of commenting out the sections you do not want. But, I would recommend doing the ‘dirty’ work yourself to get a hang of things and also to understand how it works deeply.

More guides to check out on our website:


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